Hall of Fame Biography – Joe Ciavattone Sr., class of 1996

Joe Ciavattone Sr. at the 2000 USAWA National Championships performing a 661# Neck Lift, before he set the All-Time USAWA and IAWA Neck Lift Record of 804.5 pounds in 2005.

Joe Ciavattone Sr. was born July 9th, 1968 in Norwood, Massachusetts.  He has lived in Norwood his entire life.  Joe has worked in construction throughout his working life, and is currently a construction foreman and heavy equipment operator.  He has several construction licenses, including a hydraulic, tractor trailer, and supervisor’s license.  For the past 6 years Joe has been busy working on a 200 house subdivision site.  Joe has been married to his wife Debbie for 18 years.  They have four sons – Mike, Marc, Joe Jr., and Jonathon.  They have lived in their house since 1994, which is also the home of Joe’s Gym.  Joe’s Gym has a very nice set up of weights and equipment needed for all the USAWA lifts and general weight training.  A big part of Joe’s training now is involved with coaching and training with his sons.

Joe Ciavattone at age 15 competing in an Olympic Weightlifting Meet.

Joe started weight lifting at the age of 4 in his parents shed with his brother Frank, another USAWA Hall of Famer.  They are the only two brothers in the USAWA who are both in the USAWA Hall of Fame.  They trained together whenever possible.  As Joe got older, he started competing in local Olympic Lifting meets throughout the New England area.  He became involved with the USAWA in 1990 at the Strongest Man in New England Contest which was sanctioned by the USAWA.  Joe continued to compete in Olympic Lifting until 1995.  Some of the competitions he competed in were the Bay State Games, Salam Open, Atlantic State Open, Holyoke Open, and various AAU Junior Olympic Meets.  He also competed in the Junior Olympics in 1987 in Syracuse, New York.  He trained in Rhode Island under the great coach Joe Mills.  Joe still comments that was one of the best lifting experiences of his life.  During this time in his training, he perfected the Split Clean and Split Snatch under Coach Mills which has helped his weight training through today.  At that Junior Olympic Weightlifting Meet, Joe placed third as a teenager, which he feels was a testament of his quality training.  Joe played football for 5 years, including 8th grade and throughout High School.  He was Captain of his High School football team.  He started Varsity as a Junior and Senior at the Center position and was Honorable Mention for State as a Senior.  Since then, he has still been involved in football and has been a youth coach for 16 years, from 1987 to 1995, and from 2004 to 2010.  He is very proud to have coached two teams to the Youth Superbowl with a record since 2004 of 41-15.   Joe also coaches weightlifting at his local High School for athletes involved in the football and baseball program at his gym, Joe’s Gym.  Joe remarked, “I’ve always enjoyed coaching football and weightlifting over the years as all the knowledge I have gotten in lifting in the USAWA from good friends here in the US and England.  The knowledge of competing and training that I have gotten has made me the coach and champion that I am today.”

Joe Ciavattone pressing the famous Ciavattone Train Wheels in 2000.

Joe made sure to mention his brother Frank and credits him for getting him involved in lifting at a young age. Frank  encouraged him to pursue Olympic Lifting, and eventually persuaded him to get involved with the USAWA.  The mixture and variety of the various All-Round Lifts fit Joe perfectly as it allows him to get all forms of lifting within one organization.  Today, Joe trains mostly at his home gym, Joe’s Gym.  Since he is busy with work and family, it is the best fit for his schedule.  It also allows him to spend time with his sons, as they train for weightlifting and football.

Joe has been involved as a meet director within the USAWA.  Some of the competitions he has promoted include the 1997 New England Strongman Championship, the Ciavattone Classic, the Norwood Record Breakers Day, Joe’s Gym Record Breaking Day, the Norwood Championships, the New England Championships, Gardner’s versus Ciavattone’s Postal Meet, and the Ciavattone versus Fulton Postal Meet.  His gym has recently been very active in the USAWA Postal Meet Series.

Joe Ciavattone Hack Lifting 454 pounds at the 1998 World Championships in England.

The Neck Lift is the lift that Joe is most proud of.  He has held the World Record in it in four different weight classes and breaking such barriers as 700 pounds and 800 pounds.  He holds the All-Time Neck Lift Record for the USAWA and IAWA with a lift of 804.5 pounds.  The other lifts he likes are all the varieties of Bench Presses within the USAWA.  Joe currently has a unequipped Bench Press of 375 pounds.  The Ciavattone Deadlift is also a favorite, and he feels it is a true test of hand and leg strength. When asked what initially interested him in the USAWA, Joe replied, “I like the many different type of lifts and training different lifts for competition, which makes this sport very interesting to me.” When asked if there were any meets that meant the most to him, Joe replied, “In 1998 I went to the World Championships in Leicester, England.  I had trouble in training for the Hack Lift, and only was getting 300 pounds in training, but got 454 pounds at the meet.  Training for a year as well as saving money to go over seas was hard, but was well worth it to bring home a Gold Medal.  The second meet was the 2005 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships where I Neck Lifted 804.5 pounds for the All-Time Record.  The third meet would be the 2005 Gold Cup in Maui, Hawaii where I saved up money to take a weeks vacation with my wife and break the World Record in the Reverse Grip Bench Press of 300 pounds.”

Joe’s resume of Championships is quite long.  He has been World Champion  5 times, National Champion 6 times, and has won 3 National Heavy Lift Championships.  He has also competed in 6 Gold Cups. In 1998 at the USAWA National Championships in Mansfield, Massachusetts, Joe was the Best Lifter of the entire meet!

Joe is a perfect example of someone who can lead a balanced life and still be a Champion Weightlifter. He spends a lot of hours at work, yet still finds time to be involved with his son’s activities, and not just in attendance, but actively involved as their coach and supporter.  On top of this, Joe always helps out as an official at meets and attends as many meets that he can.  You can count on him supporting the USAWA through participation in Postal Meets at Joe’s Gym.  In closing, Joe remarked, “Being part of the USAWA is a very important part of my life because of the friends I have made, and the competitions are always of the highest quality.”

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